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NTA and the Schools

Sep 26, 2008, 5:53 AM

The National Training Authority (NTA) has been wielding the big stick for sometime now. The first two victims of itsquality assessment exercise are BanutuCollege in Lamin and Stratford College of Management in Churchillstown. Three more schools have just suffered similar fate. They are: Humanity First in Latrikunda; YWCA St Martha's Skills Training in Fajikunda; and Cinchips Computer and Secretariat Institute in Churchillstown.

The reason the NTA gave for closing down both Banutu College and Stratford College of Management was that "current facilities and number of trainers were assessed to be seriously inadequate to either operate as a provider or capable of conducting the number and levels of courses to be on offer".

To be sure, the National Training Authority established by an Act of Parliament in 2002, has regulatory supervisory and monitoring functions over all public and private skills training institutions/providers operating in The Gambia. These functions, among others, include the receipt and review of applications for registration and accreditation as a provider or to be license as a trainer for specific courses and levels.

It is good that that we have such an institution to monitor the quality of education that our children receive at the tertiary level. Most of these vocational training centres help to supply the much middle-level cadre manpower that this country badly needs. The proliferation of these schools shows that there a great need for manpower development in the country. Before now, only the Management Development Institute (MDI) met this felt need in society.

The point that the NTA is making is that quality is just as important as quantity. They are trying to ensure that schools that are not up to scratch are not allowed to prey on gullible students, employees and employers of labour that send their staff there to acquire more skills that would make them more efficient at the workplace.

But then again, the NTA has to be careful on how it goes about this assessment drive so that it is not seen to beon a witch-hunt of selected schools. Are they saying that the other schools are better equipped than the ones that have been closed down? Or are they saying that the other ones have better trained staff than the ones that have been closed down?

The NTA should about the exercise in such way that national interest is seen to override vested interest. Otherwise, the whole exercise would turn out to be counterproductive in the long run. One way of avoiding such a grim prospect is to adopt a rigorous registration process that will guarantee that only schools that are good enough are given the green light to operate in the country.